According to his person, “He is mellow and friendly to every person and animal he meets. He’s like the ambassador.” He offers support when his person feels down, and he allows her to carry him around.
“Since he was a kitten it’s been our morning ritual. I pick him up and he puts his paws around my neck, and I carry him around while I open up the house. It’s how I’ve started every day for the last 16 years! He has all this fuzzy belly fur that looks like whipped cream, and he’s still soft as a kitten.”
Orbit is 17 years old, and he has developed kidney disease. Wanting to treasure every moment they have left together, his person commissioned a portrait of him.
Painting a portrait of a cat who shares such a special relationship with his human companion is such a gratifying experience. Although the commission came from online contact, I feel as though I know them both. There is a deep soulfulness in painting an animal’s portrait, and that connection is real, even if we have not met face to face.
I hope that Orbit and his person have many days ahead together. I will treasure the moments that I shared with them in creating an artwork that celebrates their love.
First, the orange cat’s owners moved away and left him behind. Luckily he had a neighbor who fed him and checked on him as he roamed his neighborhood. One day, however, he showed up with severe burns all over his head. Poor guy!
That is when his luck started to change. Keegan was taken to Good Karma Pet Rescue of South Florida, where a veterinarian tended to his burns, and a team of volunteers gave him much love and care. He is still recovering, but he is doing well.
Keegan had mange, leading the veterinarian to believe that his burns were due to a chemical that someone had applied to treat his skin condition. Because of the burns, he lost most of his fur on his face and neck. Eventually, he should have a full fluff around his neck again.
A donor and volunteer for Good Karma Pet Rescue commissioned me to paint a pet portrait of Keegan to be placed in the rescue’s new adoption room/cat cafe. Keegan will soon go on to a forever home (yay!), but his pet portrait will remain for all see and to remember the great work that is done there for cats. The pet portrait was painted in my Contemporary Folk Art Style.
Good Karma Pet Rescue is an amazing organization that rescues animals from challenging circumstances in the Fort Lauderdale, FL area. Learn more about their great rescue work by following their Facebook page. You can also send donations here.
I am so glad that they shared some of their “good karma” with Keegan, and many other animals in need!
I offer discounts to those interested in donating artwork to animal rescue organizations. Contact me if you would like to learn more about the process of purchasing art for donations.
As a teaching artist, I visit a number of preschool classes every week. One of the many learning objectives layered into my art lessons is helping students identify patterns. Each child’s moment of recognition of a pattern is often filled with excitement. Discovery of patterns is thrilling when it is a new concept.
We still have strong emotional responses as our minds grow and become more adept at identifying patterns. The response is deep. Sometimes it is relaxing and sometimes it is exhilarating depending on the design, textures and color intensity.
Patterns can spark a range of emotional reactions while also enhancing intellectual capacities.
I enjoy adding patterns to my compositions when I paint portraits of pets. Many pets have intriguing patterns in their coats, and combining those with patterned backgrounds can be a great visual challenge. Often, when I see a patterned rug or cloth of some sort in the photos submitted for a portrait, I find a way to include it in the composition.
In the above portrait of Tommy and Ollie (Thomas and Oliver if we want to be formal), I included the patterns from an authentic Persian rug on which these two felines loved to lounge. Their tabby cat stripes are offset by the rich designs and colors in the rug. I believe that this makes the portrait a more dynamic artwork than if I had focused simply on capturing the cats’ likenesses.
A portrait calls for more than making images that look like the subjects. A portrait calls for an interesting design and composition that inspires emotion on many levels. The emotion is not sentimentality, although some sentiment is acknowledged. The color and patterns take the painting to a different level, making it an artwork that can be appreciated even if you have no actual connection to the subjects.
In this portrait of Claude, I could not resist including the intricately patterned blanket on which this beautiful cat reclined in the submitted photos. Including the pattern made the portrait much more difficult and added considerable time to the process, but I think it was worth it.
The patterns in Francie’s portrait to the right led to a more abstract design for the the overall composition. I was intrigued with the cool colors of her coat contrasting with the warmer colors in the background. I also enjoyed playing with the haphazard quality of the patterns in her fur and the energetic quality of the background designs.
I do not include patterns in all of my custom pet portraits. Sometimes a simple background makes a strong composition, and sometimes I include scenery or other background choices. I find that the ones with patterns are often my favorites, however. I look forward to creating more of them in the future.
The important takeaway here is that painting a pet’s portrait, for me, is more than painting what the animal looks like. I am challenged to create an experience for the viewer that excels in the visual elements as well as meets a patron’s desire for art resembling his or her pet. Achieving an accurate likeness of the pet is important. The relationship between human and beast is best expressed, though, when the rigors of color, texture and design are applied to the painting. My hope is that I meet that challenge each time that I combine patterns, pets and portraits.